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During a joint meeting of the Grady County Commission and Grady County Lake Authority last Wednesday, Grady County administrator, J.C. (Buddy) Johnson III, sought to squelch a “false narrative” about the debt on Tired Creek Lake being spread by critics of the lake project.
“There has been a misunderstanding I need to clear up. There has been a false narrative that $10,350,000 is coming due in 2020. That is not true,” the county administrator said.
Johnson provided commissioners with a copy of an amortization schedule for the bonds issued in 2010 and the second set of bonds issued in 2015. The administrator pointed out that in 2020, the county would have the opportunity of paying off the bond without penalty to bondholders if the county was financially able to do so.
“That has nothing to do with a balloon payment or bond coming due. It would be great if we had that money sitting aside to pay off the bonds, but we don’t. Yes, the debt service is high, about $1.6 almost $1.7 million a year, but currently we have SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) funds to cover most, not all of it, but the vast majority. The SPLOST ends in 2020 and hopefully the voters will vote for a new SPLOST. It would be very unfortunate if the SPLOST didn’t carry through,” Johnson said.
The county administrator emphasized his point, “There is no $10 million dooms day in 2020. That is simply a false narrative,” he said.
According to Johnson, the county has the option to pay off the 2015 bonds without penalty in 2025, but he noted the county would unlikely have the $8,795,000 needed to pay off the bonds early.
Johnson did not direct his comments specifically to any particular individual, but Richard Jordan, a vocal critic of the county commission and lake authority, has made comments concerning the financing of the debt for the lake project in public meetings. Jordan claims to have been the chief financial officer of a number of businesses and organizations and routinely identifies himself as such.
In other business last Wednesday, the board and authority:
Heard from Jamie Smith, a resident of Wheeler Road, who complained about trash containers at the Cedar Springs East boat ramp not being dumped timely and about people fishing from the dock. Smith also said that there is suspected drug activity taking place at the landing. He requested the county have the Sheriff’s Office conduct more frequent patrols of the landing. The county administrator said officials were aware of Smith’s concerns and he also said he would address the litter issue with Lake Authority executive director, Mike Binion, and county solid waste superintendent, Stanley Elkins.
Heard comments from Dakota Daniels concerning people fishing from the GA Hwy. 112 bridge. Daniels said he feared someone was going to get hurt or killed if fishing continued to be permitted from the bridge. Johnson reminded Daniels that Hwy. 112 is a state route and the county has “zero” control of it. The county administrator said he is in contact with state officials to seek a remedy to the situation.
Heard comments from Richard Jordan who said he had discussed with Commissioner Ray Prince the possibility of putting up a fence to prevent people from being able to fish from the bridge or the bank near the bridge. Johnson said the fence would need to attach to the bridge which was something the state would have to approve. “These are all ideas we have floated about. We will work through the proper channels to try and come to a conclusion,” Johnson said.